We arrived at Mar Hall, an old estate and golf course, on the outskirts of Glasgow on Christmas Eve. We were looking forward to a luxurious stay in a beautiful setting and a big Christmas Dinner the next day with all the trimmings. It was going to be one of the highlights of our trip, just lazing about in a nice old manor and enjoying not having to organize Christmas for the family – and having someone else handle all of the food!
I decided to take advantage of our arrival to head out for a run at the end of the afternoon and explore a little. I took some advice from the guy on the reception desk who said I could follow a path through the golf course to a gate, then pass onto a trail that traced the river and pretty much follow my nose on an out-and-back along the water. It sounded good to me as it seemed set to involve a little sightseeing as well as an incapacity to get lost as long as I stayed on the trail. I had to strap a headlamp on as it was already getting dark at 3:50pm, and the fog was rolling in off the water, too. No matter, it isn’t the first time that I have run in the dark, though it would be the first time I have run in the dark across a golf course.
I started off down the trail that had been vaguely pointed out to me by the reception guy and found it well marked. It seemed to double as a footpath (in the British sense of ‘a way to walk’ rather than the Australian sense of ‘paved sidewalk’) and as a route for the golf carts to follow, and all was going well until I came to the end of the path and didn’t see where to go next. I was meant to be looking for the gate but I didn’t see it, so I decided that the best course of action was to head to wards the river where the trail was meant to run. I turned right and headed downhill towards the water, suspecting that there would be a fence at some stage to vault over and get onto the trail.
I was a little worried as I ran as the golf course is a nice one and I didn’t want to tear up any of the greens or fairways with my trail shoes. I got to the fence between the course and the trail and ran along it for a while looking for a part low enough to get over easily. Eventually I spotted something I was capable of scaling, and so I mounted the fence, got safely over, and started running along the trail.
It was nice trail but, in the fog, there wasn’t much sightseeing to be had. The reeds grew high in some places, and in others I had views of at least the edge of the water. Still, it was bracing to be running in the cold and fog, and I made my way along the water until my watch chirped up to say I had done five kilometers, at which point I turned around and headed for home.
Getting back into the golf course? Now that was easier. I followed the trail all the way around the perimeter of the club, headed up a small incline, and came across the gate I had been promised. I passed through, locked it again, and realized quickly that I would have probably seen the gate the first time around if I had actually continued another ten meters or so through the fog. No matter, I would know for the next day.
I climbed back along the path, would my way around the manor, ducked through a stand of trees, and was back outside the building near where I had started less than an hour before. A nice run to round out a good day in Scotland, and now it was into Mar Hall for a shower and some Christmas Eve cheer.